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County men undertake 50-mile walk in memory of Kennedys

Monday, 22 July 2013

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University of Maine at Presque Isle officials are pleased to have three County men include the campus as part of their five phase walk in honor of President John F. Kennedy and his brother U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. The three men will walk 40 miles from Houlton to UMPI on Saturday, July 27.

This will be the final of four practice walks leading up to a 50-mile walk being undertaken in August by Larry Berz, Dr. Arthur Selander, and Nicholas Boggs. Their undertaking is in remembrance of Robert F. Kennedy, who hiked 50 miles from Washington D. C. to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, strongly challenged and inspired by his brother President Kennedy's call for national physical conditioning and renewed vigor.

"The tale of Bobby Kennedy's stubborn determination and spontaneous exercise--he reputedly wore only penny loafers on his feet--caught my imagination and spurred my creative consideration to repeat the 50-mile, one day hike translated and relocated to the hills and potato fields of northern Maine," Larry Berz said.

Berz and his colleagues have been preparing for this 50-mile hike since late March by breaking down the 50 miles into five increments from Houlton to the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. Phase one was for 10 miles from Pat's Shell Station in Caribou to MSSM. They walked 20 miles on May 11 from Caribou to Limestone via Fort Fairfield for Phase two. On June 15, Phase three was completed; the 30-mile trek from Dr. Selander's office in Caribou to the high country of New Sweden took 13 hours.

During Phase four of their effort, Berz, Selander, and Boggs will begin walking from Houlton to UMPI on July 27, 2013, starting at 4 a.m. Their walk will take them by the Francis Malcolm Institute in Easton. They expect the hike to end between 7 and 10 p.m. for a grand total of 40 miles. This hike will be nonstop, excluding refreshments and bathroom breaks. Joining them on this trek will be Charles MacDonald of Acton and Lillian Costello of Milo, both students at MSSM.

The fifth and final phase will serve as the official commemorative hike, with the men walking from Houlton to MSSM on Aug. 31. Berz has invited a direct decedent of the Kennedys to give an address at the celebration to be held after the completion of the hike.

The three County men decided to embark on this adventure after hearing a story on National Public Radio celebrating the memory of Kennedy's remarkable one-day hike. Not only are the three men performing this 50-mile walk out of respect for the Kennedys but also for the health and history that will be highlighted as part of the walk. The crew participated in the Maine Potato Blossom Festival Parade on Saturday, July 20 as "The Long Distance Explorers," complete with walking banner. Their plan was to share with those in attendance their celebration of the Kennedy "New Frontier" legacy for national fitness and vigor.

Berz is also hoping the walk will help to focus attention on science and exploration in people's lives, especially because the Phase four walk will follow the Maine Solar System Model from Pluto in Houlton to the Sun which is located at UMPI's Folsom Hall. Berz said he will attempt to offer a pithy statement pertaining to the relevance of each planet to the solar system and our world as the group reaches each of these milestones.

"This sheds light on heroic exploits and adventures which make our nation great. And it may even point the way to a new generation of exploratory spirit which may ultimately lead us beyond Earth to the borders of the solar system in the centuries to come," he said.

An UMPI delegation including President Linda Schott will welcome the hikers when they reach the "Sun" at Folsom Hall on the evening of July 27. Campus and community members are invited to join in welcoming the group and congratulating the members on their achievement.

"We are so pleased to have Phase 4 of this walk end at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, and to have the planets and dwarf planets in our Maine Solar System Model serve as milestones reached along the way," UMPI President Linda Schott said. "This is such a unique and worthwhile feat for this team to undertake and an excellent way to share a piece of our nation's history while promoting health and lifelong wellness."

For more information about this commemorative hike, please contact Larry Berz at 325-3303, ext. 0.